Westchester County District Attorney Launches Criminal Probe, Sources Say.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- A senior staff member in the office of the Athletic Director of New Rochelle School District is facing potential criminal charges after the District's Business Office determined that she cashed a payroll check made out to a female high school sports coach.
Marisol Martell "unexpectedly resigned" Thursday as the senior AD Office administrator working under Athletic Director Steve Young. The resignation followed the filing of a criminal complaint by the coach with New Rochelle Police. Carole Bonanno is now working as administrator for the AD's Office on an interim basis.
The complaint reportedly alleges that Martell improperly cashed a payroll check intended for the coach and pocketed the proceeds of the check, sources tell Talk of the Sound.
New Rochelle Police declined to comment and would not provide records, instead referring the matter to the Westchester County District Attorney's Office, a typical response when there is an active criminal investigation underway.
"Please contact Robert Wolf at Westchester County district attorney’s office for further information," said New Rochelle Police Captain Cosmo Costa.
The Westchester District Attorney's Office is said to be looking into many other financial transactions in the AD's office going back several years.
Robert Wolf, spokesperson for Westchester County DA Anthony Scarpino declined to comment.
"This office has no comment with regard to your inquiry," said Wolf, again a response typically offered when there is an ongoing criminal investigation.
The matter came to light over the past several months after the coach repeatedly informed Martell that she had not received a particular pay check. Martell stonewalled the coach for three months, prompting the coach to take the matter up with the business office which told the coach the check had been cashed.
The coach denied cashing the check. District officials determine that the signature on the deposited and cleared check did not match the coach's signature but appeared to match the handwriting of Marisol Martell. The coach was advised by the Business Office to file a criminal complaint with the police. The complaint was filed so that there is now a criminal investigation underway including a review of past financial transactions in the AD's office.
For reasons that remain unclear District policy has been for coaches not otherwise on the district payroll to be paid by the AD's office. The business office sends a physical check to the Athletic Director's office so that Martell would have physical possession of checks and be responsible to turn over the check to the coach. There was no "sign off" procedure in the AD's office to confirm that a particular coach had accepted a payroll check.
Asked whether this payment protocol is under review --and subject to change -- school officials declined to comment.
There have been numerous allegations of financial improprieties in the AD's office for years. Talk of the Sound has reported on some of them: the pocketing of cash from soda machines installed at the high school by former AD John Magnotta after the District banned the sale of soda on school grounds, the refusal of current AD Steve Young to provide an accounting of cheerleader cash fundraising and generally loose financial controls for cash in his office, putting coaches on payroll for lucrative light-duty jobs such as coach Theodore White being paid $40 an hour as a lifeguard at the high school pool, misallocation of federal grant money and a sweetheart deal that allowed the Badger Swim Club to operate a for-profit business using the high school swimming pool for free -- and many others.
Talk of the Sound has reported on numerous other instances of financial improprieties in the District over the years including those involving the District Business Office under former Assistant Superintendent John Quinn.
In 2016, Columbus Elementary School Principal Sonya Nunez was "unexpectedly resigned" over allegations of financial improprieties.